And so we reach the end of the auditions, and while I’m very ready to move on to the next stage of this journey, I can still look back on our time spent in the Starbucks Half-Caf No-Whip Vocal Brewing Chamber with a fair amount of fondness and appreciation. That’s not to say there weren’t some perfectly ridiculous moments in tonight’s final blind-audition round, but all in all The Voice was able to sustain a good amount of unpredictable fun throughout nine hours of television. The editing cues and rules changed slightly from episode to episode, and when coupled with the generally high level of talent across the board, the result was a show that kept even the most jaded of us on our toes.
Tonight’s episode was short on sob stories, perhaps because we were starting to reach the dregs of the hand-selected Voice audition stable. I predict most of the vocalists we saw tonight won’t make it past the battle rounds, so why waste time getting attached to them and their homelessness/terminal illness/daddy issues? Most of the few in-depth background stories we heard actually made me dislike the contestants more: Hawaiian-born Cheesa’s entire family moved from Honolulu to Los Angeles when she was a child to support her singing career, eventually renting out their house to boarders to make ends meet. Now, I’m no child psychologist, but something tells me that having your loved ones completely uproot their lives so that you can sing on TV would have a slight impact on the health of your self-image. As soon as she began her graceless, way-too-low rendition of “If I Was A Boy” (which is not a good audition song, kids! When are you going to learn?) I swore nobody would turn around for her—but alas, Cee Lo picked her up at the very last minute.
Another weirdly-bad-yet-somehow-chaired performance was Lex Land’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Both Cee Lo and Adam turn almost right away as she rolled out her low, mellow voice, and almost immediately afterwards some serious pitch issues began to show themselves. Yet somehow, even as her performance was slowly unraveling due to what must have been dreadful nerves, Blake also turned and eventually got Lex on his team. Christina remained stingy throughout this and many of the auditions tonight, making her look like the sane one among a bunch of suddenly pathetic pushovers.
I also felt personally insulted by The Shields Brothers, whose presence on this show was apparently important enough to send a B Unit to Ruralville, Virginia to see the quaint farmhouse in which they practice their smug, jokey, YouTube-ready brand of fake rock ’n’ roll. Blake and Christina seemed rightly underwhelmed and confused by the performance, but once again, Cee Lo was a sucker for a gimmick. Between this and his picking Tony Vincent, I’m beginning to get the feeling that this Cee Lo fellow might not have the keenest sense for what constitutes “over the top.”
The inclusion of The Shields Brothers, as well as Dylan-fetishist Lee “I spit on the grave of the dying art of baking” Koch, made the decision to send home aging blues singer and guitarist Preston Shannon all the more annoying. To be fair, I wouldn’t have turned around for Shannon, either—his staccato, shout-y delivery was too rough and abrasive to really stand up to the more trained vocalists on this show, but I guess that’s just The Voice’s way of showing us that even if you’ve been at this stuff forever, you can still be beat by a sorority girl in a homemade Dazzler costume.
And then there’s just the good old fashioned joy of watching a narcissistic douchebag go home empty handed. This Cameron Novack fellow spouts out self-aware soundbytes like “I’d consider myself a triple threat—if that’s as high as I can go,” then reveals that he is both trained in opera (the super shout-y histrionic type, what else?) and a supremely Caucasian variety of freestyling, and after he goes on for a while about how great he is I start to realize we’re getting our first real Voice bitch edit. And my, what a bitch. There was an attempt to build up some suspense over whether or not the producers would allow Cee Lo to press his button belatedly (because apparently the fact that Novack sounded like a woman but was actually a man was an important and relevant selling point), but it’s a no go and he’s out of there.
The enigmatically all-caps WADE and Whitney Myer were my two favorites of the night, but talent-wise I was rather underwhelmed. So, instead of trying to talk about things we felt positively about, lets talk teams! I’d say that all four judges all have a decent mix of “okay” and “awesome” in their ranks: Cee Lo has Jamar Rogers and Jamie Lono but he also has Chessa; Blake has Erin Willett and Charlotte Sometimes, but he also has Lex Land and something called ALyX. As far as who has the most potential winners, though, I’d say Adam and Cee Lo are in the lead. However, I don’t remember Cee Lo being the most active mentor in terms of nurturing and fine-tuning his team’s vocal performances, so Adam may have the advantage just given how much he’s willing to get into it with his artists. In case you care, I’ve got my (tentative) money on Mathai and Jamie Lono. Brackets, anyone?
Next week: The Battle Rounds get a makeover! Or at least, they get a purple couch and at least one more Ne-Yo than last year. I’m just hoping the judges will be better at pairing up their rivals this time around; the last thing I need to see is country duo The Line and MC Moses Stone duke it out over a cover of “Push It.” Actually, wait, no. Shit like that is exactly what I need to see on my television in 2012. Keep bearing as little resemblance as possible to the actual process of getting a recording contract, The Voice. You’ll be all the more fun for it.
- Please go visit Cameron “Novackaine” Novack’s MySpace now and try to read the text block on the right hand side without your brain exploding.
- I debated whether or not to even acknowledge those very bad yet very ignorable Lorax promos before and after a few commercial breaks, and I decided the least I could do was mention them in the stray observations so y’all would know I saw them and am making a conscious decision not to speak of them.
- I really need a supercut of every victorious Voice auditioner tearfully hugging and laughing with their family as Carson Daly watches longingly.